STAYCATIONS are increasingly favoured by the British public so an opportunity to have an overnight stay at a hotel on my own doorstep simply had to be taken up.

The Mercure Hotel on Brighton’s seafront has recently undergone a major renovation and The Argus was invited to check it out.

The hotel is situated almost immediately opposite the West Pier and from the fifth floor room my girlfriend and I were allocated, the views of the seafront were quite simply superb.

The room itself was just what you hope for when it comes to an overnight stay.

It was light and spacious and, having checked in during the afternoon, provided the perfect opportunity to relax before a leisurely pre-dinner stroll along the seafront taking in the sights and enjoying an ice cream in the process.

The Mercure is best described as an old fashioned hotel and that is a compliment rather than a criticism. Upon arrival we were given a warm welcome by the receptionist who gave us a brief yet useful appraisal of the hotel, including where the lifts, dining room and breakfast area were situated.

Having returned from our walk on a gloriously sunny day, it was time to prepare for our evening meal in the imposing dining room, which faces the seafront. As dusk descended, it was wonderful to see the West Pier and the bandstand in silhouette, framed by a glorious sunset.

And so to the food. I opted for the chicken schnitzel (£16.50) served with a fried egg, gherkins, capers and skinny fries which I had never tried before but certainly will be doing again. In a word... fantastic.

My girlfriend opted for the Casterbridge ribeye steak (£27) with tomato, a herb topping and chunky chips which, she confirmed between mouthfuls, was cooked to perfection. She then decided to go for the selection of ice cream to finish off with, which was described as “yummy”. We augmented our meal with a couple of glasses of rose and a large gin and tonic, followed by coffee before, with tummies full, we retired for the night.

And I must say, it was one of the best night’s sleep I have had in years, eight hours straight before I was woken by the early morning sunshine streaming through the windows.

Again, we decided to take a stroll, this time in the opposite direction towards Portslade, in order to work up an appetite for breakfast, which is served between 6.30am and 10am during the week and between 7.30am and 11am on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.

Breakfast is as you would expect. It is served in the splendid surroundings of what appears to be a ballroom and you help yourself to a choice of bacon, eggs, cereals, fruit and so forth. As we stayed during the week, there was no long queue of hungry guests, just the gentle hum of convivial conversation.

The hotel has 116 rooms, all with HD televisions and wi-fi. The renovation, which was completed last month, was led by Hove-based interior designer Helen Hooper, who has certainly done a sterling job. For a short city break, it ticks all the boxes.